It seems as if the pace of automation is increasing in the industry. For example, the notion of an autonomous ship has yet again reared its head. ECDIS is now becoming institutionalized. Is this going to cause problems in and of itself – the pace of automation? I believe it will and it is causing problems now.
The age-old way of shipping has been cost containment. After all a ton mile is a ton mile no matter what carries it. In an industry where there are few distinguishing features which may be exploited one may expect fierce cost competition and very little price elasticity. That is what we have in many trades such as in the container trades. Hence, automation is seen as a way to reduce costs by engineering out the people who operate ships which in some perceptions are the expensive causes of many costs and more costly problems. This is flawed thinking on many counts.
Read more and watch the video after the jump.